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'My commentary is all instinct' - Bill Lawry

Richie Benaud, Ian Chappell and Bill Lawry watch a presentation by the McGrath Foundation during tea in Sydney Getty Images

With his retirement from cricket commentary, we bring to you the details of how Bill Lawry went about his work during his long commentary career with Channel Nine, and what it was like to work with Richie Benaud and Tony Greig. Excerpts from a 2012 interview:

Where do his catch phrases come from?

They just come out. Just pick up the mic. Nothing is pre-planned. I don't sit down and do any homework, apart from studying who the players are.

I have been very lucky. I have seen some wonderful moments. Once [Shahid] Afridi hit two sixes off the first two balls down in Hobart. Those are great moments to be on air. Also, it helps to be on first, which I do a lot of the time. In Test matches you might get two wickets in the first two overs, and you only get three wickets on some other days. You have got to make sure when you get those wickets, that everybody at home - if he is outside in the garden - comes in to see what is going on. You want him to say, "What was that noise?" and go in and see a wicket has fallen.

His commentary - science or instinct?

Mine's all instinct. I just try and call it each ball as I see it. I love to get a wicket, I love to get a great catch or a run-out. I just try and be involved without going over the top.

I don't try and analyse it too much. I just try and bring in my experiences as a player. I realise that probably 70% of the people at home are not cricket experts. The people that come here probably understand the game 80%. The people at home don't understand that much. I try and explain it to them. When we first started, David Hill actually had a chart up on the wall with field positions, because when we were saying to somebody who has migrated to Australia, "He has got a man at leg gully", what does leg gully mean to a 14-year-old girl or a young boy who is not brought up in a cricketing family? What is silly point? A traffic stop or something?

On being quoted earlier he enjoyed commentary more than playing

It was more about the times. When I first played for Australia I was a tradesman of tools. I'd work till five o'clock, I'd rush to practice, get there at 6 o'clock, and bat for 20 minutes in the dark. I'd love to have been a professional because you can train your skill all day.

On Twelfth Man, Billy Birmingham, who did insanely popular parody skits mimicking Channel 9 commentators

Billy Birmingham is very interesting because when he made those tapes, I was cricket manager of Victoria, and I'd go out to schools, and obviously a six-year-old kid had no idea who I was because I wasn't playing then. They'd say, "Are you Billy Birmingham?" I'd say, "I wish I was."

On what he read more? Cricket or pigeons?

Is Ian Chappell around? [Looks around] I'm not a cricket vegetable. By that I mean, Ian Chappell can sit here and talk, and would talk, cricket to you all day. When we played, after stumps they'd be in the dressing room still in their gear, talking cricket till 10 o'clock. Half-past six, I am gone. If we are on tour, I'll go out to the theatre or somewhere. Between 11 and 6, I was fanatical. Once six o'clock comes, it was a new world out there.

On Wendy the pigeon

What happened was, Greigy used to know about my pigeon love because he had a few South African fancier friends. We are sitting one day and a pigeon landed in the grandstand of the Sydney Cricket Ground, and the cameramen are fantastic and they go, "There's a pigeon." And Greigy said, "There's a pigeon." And I said, "There's Wendy, Greigy." And it went on. And we come back next day and Greigy says, "I have given Wendy the kraaahhhh [the cut-throat]." And I go, "What?" This is going on air and people are loving it. That's Greigy. He could make something out of nothing.

On whether Richie Benaud ever tried to restrain him on air

Never. Never ever said that. No. Richie is not like that. If you are going to hang yourself, Richie will let you hang yourself.